Saturday, January 31, 2004 

There's a shocker

That stolen art? Recovered. They were "mysteriously returned" to a law firm.


The sensual world

Kate Bush's 'Wuthering Heights' is probably not the best thing to listen to in the dark whilst reading about horror movies. At least I don't have 'Experiment IV' around - the video for that scared the crap out of me as a kid.


The more you know

"Dungeons and Dragons never goes away. Girls will still sense that shit 20 years later."

More here.

Friday, January 30, 2004 

Give me some credit

Gee, Jacklin, do you think the title maybe tipped me off?



Kerry: Not the best pick for Democratic candidate. Oh well, not my country...


Gentlemen's agreement

My first classic review is up, and I think it may be my favorite out of everything I've written for Stylus so far.

Thursday, January 29, 2004 

Read between the lines

If you do that here, you get a rather scathing critique of American media. Once again, the Washington Post acquits itself the best.



To: People waiting for the bus at the University Centre

This is just to let you all know that if I and others have been standing in the cold, waiting for the bus, for 10-15 minutes and you walk up to the line and then go to the front - expect a brick to the face.

You have been warned.



Check this out.



I don't know if I originally blogged this, but recently small ivory statues worth $1.5 million were stolen from the Art Gallery of Ontario. Now the AGO is claiming they suspect "bored teens" of the theft. AGO security is so lax that bored teenagers can just walk of with that much valuable art? Doesn't something seem a bit off here?


Where's my flying car? Dept.

A new form of matter has been created.

Can you even believe this shit? New forms of matter, frozen light, and so on. I love science.



As much as I hate big viruses like Mydoom (not infected, thank you very much; not using IE and Outlook Express does wonders for your computer's health, and switching away from Windows in general would do even more), I don't really mind it being used to attack SCO. They're a bunch of dumb, greedy grassfuckers.


Holy shit

An announcement from the Vatican I can basically get behind. Nice to see.


Sein und Zeit

Interesting, fairly balanced article on Heidegger and Arendt.



This is just too much. It's not funny, it's not particularly clever, and it's not insightful either.


Go Croatia!

I've met Barry Burns, and I can well imagine him saying this sort of thing. Proud Celt, indeed.


I'd vote for him

Phillipe for President!


Would you believe...

...that Todd Hutlock can actually make me want to listen to the Wedding Present?

(that's more snark than actual aversion, mind you)


Le petit mort

This story is in the end quite touching, surprisingly enough.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004 

Which Historical Lunatic Are You?

(stolen from Nick)

You are Nicola Tesla, inventor of the Tesla Coil!

A minister's son from Simljan in Austria-Hungary, you were precocious from an early age. At three you could multiply three-digit numbers in your head and calculate how many seconds visitors to your home had lived. In awe of your older brother Dane, you shot a pea-shooter at his horse, causing it to throw him and inflict injuries from which he later died. This tragedy haunted you ever after. You frequently suffered bouts of illness with hallucinations throughout your life. During one affliction of cholera, you encountered the writing of Mark Twain, with whom you were later to be close friends. Later, another, this time mystery, illness inexplicably heightened your senses to a painful extent, only relenting when you hit upon the idea of the alternating current motor.

You developed an aversion to human contact, particularly involving hair, and a fear of pearls; when one would-be lover kissed you, you ran away in agony. Later, you insisted that any repeated actions in your day-to-day life had to be divisible by three, or, better yet, twenty-seven. You would, for example, continue walking until you had executed the required number of footsteps. You refused to eat anything until you had calculated its exact volume. Saltine crackers were a favourite for their uniformity in this respect. In the midst of important work, you forgot trivial details such as eating, sleeping or, on one memorable occasion, who you were.

Your inventions, always eccentric, began on a suitably bizarre note. The first was a frog-catching device that was so successful, and hence so emulated by your fellow children, that local frogs were almost eradicated. You also created a turbine powered by gluing sixteen May bugs to a tiny windmill. The insects panicked and flapped their wings furiously, powering the contraption for hours on end. This worked admirably until a small child came along and ate all the creatures alive, after which you never again touched another insect.

Prompted by dreams of attaining the then-ridiculed goal of achieving an alternating-current motor, you went to America in the hope of teaming up with Thomas Edison. Edison snubbed you, but promised fifty thousand dollars if you could improve his own direct-current motor by 20% efficiency. You succeeded. Edison did not pay up. It was not long until you created an AC motor by yourself.

Now successful, you set up a small laboratory, with a few assistants and almost no written records whatsoever. Despite it being destroyed by fire, you invented the Tesla Coil, impressing even the least astute observer with man-made lightning and lights lit seemingly by magic. Moving to Colorado Springs, you created a machine capable of sending ten million volts into the Earth's surface, which even while being started up caused lightning to shoot from fire hydrants and sparks to singe feet through shoes all over the town. When calibrated to be in tune with the planet's resonance, it created what is still the largest man-made electrical surge ever, an arc over 130 feet long. Unfortunately, it set the local power plant aflame.

You returned to New York, incidentally toying with the nascent idea of something eerily like today's internet. Although the wealthiest man in America withdrew funding for a larger, more powerful resonator in short order, it did not stop you announcing the ability to split the world in two. You grew ever more diverse in your inventions: remote-controlled boats and submarines, bladeless turbines, and, finally, a death ray.

While whether the ray ever existed is still doubtful, it is said that you notified the Peary polar expedition to report anything strange in the tundra, and turned on the ray. First, nothing happened; then it disintegrated an owl; finally, reports reached you of the mysterious Tunguska explosion, upon which news you dismantled the apparatus immediately. An offer during WWII to recreate it was, thankfully, never acted upon by then-President Wilson. Turning to other matters, you investigated the forerunner of radar, to widespread derision.

Your inventions grew stranger. One oscillator caused earthquakes in Manhattan. You adapted this for medical purposes, claiming various health benefits for your devices. You found they let you work for days without sleep; Mark Twain enjoyed the experience until the sudden onset of diarrhoea. You claimed to receive signals in quasi-Morse Code from Mars, explored the initial stages of quantum physics; proposed a "wall of light", using carefully-calibrated electromagnetic radiation, that would allegedly enable teleportation, anti-gravity airships and time travel; and proposed a basic design for a machine for photographing thoughts. You died aged 87 in New York, sharing an apartment with the flock of pigeons who were by then your only friends.

Ridiculed throughout your life (Superman fought the evil Dr. Tesla in 1940s comics), you were posthumously declared the father of the fluorescent bulb, the vacuum tube amplifier and the X-ray machine, and the Supreme Court named you as the legal inventor of the radio in place of Marconi. Wardenclyffe, the tower once housing your death ray, was dynamited several times to stop it falling into the hands of spies. It was strangely hard to topple, and even then could not be broken up.

Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.


Gin makes a man mean

New review by me up at, you guessed it, Stylus.



I don't think Nick Sylvester likes the new Daft Punk remix disc. No sir, I don't think he likes it at all.


Wednesday's Emotional Setup: Temptation

(NB: I am writing this from one of the iMacs in the office, having smuggled the MP3 of today's entry in via an ingenious little memory stick that came with the laptop)

Normally, were I to do a WES on a song called 'Temptation', you'd be correct to guess that I was writing about New Order's immortal single of the same name, the version of which that appeared on the Substance compilation being perhaps my favorite song. Ever. Definitely the best thing they've done, and I don't say that lightly. I've been told that the original 12" version was even better, which I'm sure is a possibility, but in either case it's the same song. A debatable point, but I'm not going to go into that here.

So what, you may ask, usurps enough of my affection to have me write about it instead? The last time some stylus people and myself were debating the merits of various versions of 'Temptation' when someone (I'm tempted to say Andrew Unterberger, but I could be wrong) let me know that apparantly Kid606 had done a version for some obscure 12".

Ten minutes later, thanks to the wonders of the internet, I heard it. And it is full on beautiful. The guitar line that introduces the original after Bernard Sumner's "oohs" subside is replaced by a warmly fuzzy sound that slowly phases into existence; eventually a glassy keyboard part takes over what would have been the vocal melody. Around 3 1/2 minutes in (this version scales the song down to six minutes from seven), a new noise, one that occasionally scales upwards, stopping just short of pain like a feedback whine, appears and echos in the background. Percussion clicks and burbles in the background. At around 5 1/2 minutes, the song gives up on trying to emulate the song explicitly, the glassy sound shatters softly into fragments of light, and the song sighs its way out of this world.

The sonics are wonderful, of course, but that alone would not have been enough to so swiftly endear this version of the track to my heart. Part of it is the fact that it's (presumably) Kid606 - an artist I both like and respect - and to hear him displaying such love for a song I also feel so strongly about is heartening. But mostly it's the subtle shift in feeling from the original 'Temptation'.

The original is, for me, a shout of joy (some of the lyrics notwithstanding). Listen to Sumner sing

Oh, you've got green eyes
Oh, you've got blue eyes
Oh, you've got grey eyes
And I've never seen anyone quite like you before
No, I've never met anyone quite like you before

and try to deny that it's a love song. The Kid's version is still basically the same but with wordless cries in place of vocals it takes on a more melancholy, bittersweet air. If the original is a song to hear on a train taking you to meet someone, the landscape speeding by just out of reach, then this version is you on the same train going in the opposite direction, speeding away again. Preparing yourself for the wait before you can see them again.



For purposes of clarity

I assume everyone's already aware of this, but just in case:

Santorum (noun)
1. The frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.
2. Homophobic Senator Rick Santorum

Tuesday, January 27, 2004 

It's true, it's true

I have occasionally let abuse go unreported.


Cogito ergo sum

Right here, under the heading "Ian's Blog", is the best description of this place I've seen. I may steal it.

Monday, January 26, 2004 

Desert island discs

So I'm settling down to begin working on a "Stranded" article for Stylus, in which we try to figure out what record we'd want to have on a desert island. So I'm reading all the past articles to get a feel for how people have done it before. And that reminds me that this one might just be the single most beautiful, harrowing piece of writing we have on the site.

Sunday, January 25, 2004 

Urgent & key

Try to find a copy of Kid606's cover of 'Temptation' right now. It's beautiful.


Ooh, look

New journal entry up.


Good thing I don't hang with many under-17s

My life is rated R.
What is your life rated?


I'm here all week

Okay, seriously, I'm closing this window now, because this is going to be completely humiliating tomorrow morning.



It is completely awesome that I can type this good while high.



I am actually authentically on drugs right now. You can tell by the way I care whether you think I am on drugs.


I will not erase this tomorrow morning

I should totally write more music criticism while high on serious amounts of very good 'shrooms. Totally. IT WOULD BE AWESOME.

Saturday, January 24, 2004 

Line by line

An in depth analysis of the most recent State of the Union speech by Bush.

Friday, January 23, 2004 

Dear Pete

UPDATE YOUR FUCKING BLOG. Even if just with a little "hey, I'm still alive" type thing.


Today in the news

Read this. Then read this. Then try to tell me Bush should still be the American president.


Worth it just for the headline

Not that the actual story is funny, but the headline is killer.


Dear Nick

It's been a while since I read it, so maybe I'm forgetting something, but: yes.

It'd be pleasent, don't get me wrong, but something pleasent and "not necessarily a bad thing" are not the same thing, by far.


Touching from a distance

"[Hannett's] pioneering use of delay made Joy Division's barbed, jarring threats seem impossibly remote, like atrocities viewed through the lens of a camera."

Wow. Eric Carr at Pitchfork has an excellent, excellent review of the new Joy Division live box set up.

Thursday, January 22, 2004 

It truly is Mathers Week

Scott McKeating, who just had an amazing article on Tricky up at Stylus recently (second part here, gives me the nicest props I have yet to receive.


I'm not a big fan of suing people...

... but, you know, sometimes it's kind of appropriate. I wouldn't want the US government disregarding my Canadian citizenship and shipping me to Syria either, but hey, I'm white, they probably wouldn't.

(to the sarcasm impaired: that doesn't make it right)


The shocks just keep coming

So now the FBI is helping Valve look for the Half-Life 2 code. Wacky.



Oddly enough last night I finished a classic music review of a Fall album (the perilously underrated Code: Selfish), and today there's a review of their new one up at Pitchfork.


Wow again

Speakerboxxx/The Love Below hits #1 in the States for the fifth time. That's pretty impressive.



I was wrong - it's actually Mathers Week at Stylus. See, they've got another review up. I am most emphatically not complaining.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004 

It really is quite unsettling, isn't it?

Bunsen talks with Howard Dean's Unhinged Concession Speech Guttural Battle Cry.


Wednesday's Emotional Setup: Into Your Hideout

First off, a brief note: Operation Successfully Pay Tuition has gone off without a hitch. I'm back down to around $140 in my account, with rent coming up before my next paycheck, but I used my last paycheck to pay tuition and Mom is still sending me some money once she gets paid. Thanks again to her, Dad and K. for the help.

This week's song is not findable (if that's a word) on the mighty Allmusic Guide. The band, Pilate, is Canadian, on a Canadian label (called Maple Music, no less), and is at an odd stage of development; big enough to have their video in rotation at MuchMusic, small enough that they're playing a no cover show at the Keg, our on-campus bar next week. They also boast a fairly nice website (I like the floating menu) that at one point describes them as "Radiohead meets Crowded House". Fair enough. 'Into Your Hideout' is the only thing I've heard by them, and I do love it; not enough to go running after an album copy, though.

The song starts with a simple riff. It's one of those riffs that's been used in hundreds, maybe thousands of songs, and doesn't sound one bit weathered. For a debut single, it's actually a pretty good idea - everyone who loves that riff (and the closest I can come to describing it is to say that it kind of goes duh. duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh. duh. duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh. and so on). From there the rest of the song, more floaty and piano-based than you might have thought, comes in, and so does Todd Clark's voice. He's a fine post-Yorke rock frontman, more throaty and as a result less 'wussy' than Yorke or Chris Martin, but still capable of the now de rigeur falsetto when called for it.

Its got hooks, its got a very nice chorus, it's got a middle eight that is extremely Radiohead-esque, circa OK Computer. It's just another of those songs you hear on the radio, and ultimately you'll love or hate it for the same minor, personal types of reasons I do. For me I love the riff (which is reintroduced every verse), I love the tone of Clark's voice (especially his empathetic weariness, one of my favorite vocal emotions, on the lines "My legs fail me/The ground hails me/Distant lights are calling"), I love the chorus, and I especially love what the two lines of the refrain are:

And I stole into your hideout
And it's cold there now

One of my favorite current commentaries on the cost of self-imposed emotional isolation. Or at least, that's how I'm taking it.

(K. thinks the song sounds like recent U2, by the way.)



Too right

Canadians need more time: stress study


Shut the fuck up, motherfucker

You may notice that when I link to items taking place in the news I often swear. Well, that because things likea judge claiming a woman wasn't abused because she was too well-dressed keep happening. I'm sorry, but that sort of crap makes me profanely angry.



A top ten by me has been put up. I guess it's Mathers Day at Stylus or something.


Quick turnaround

They've put another review by me up at Stylus already. Two in two days - I'm flattered.


That's a relief

Tuition for this semester just successfully came out of my account.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004 

Wrong wrong wrong

Listen, to de-exorcise a kid you don't have to strangle them, stab them and then break their back. Disgusting.


Just to reiterate

The fact that he wants what is, for all intents and purposes, an eternal war doesn't worry anyone else?


State of the union

I think this is best presented by quoting:

"Twenty-eight months have passed since September 11, 2001 - over two years without an attack on American soil - and it is tempting to believe that the danger is behind us," Mr Bush said.

"That hope is understandable, comforting - and false."

So, instead, Bush wants to renew the (unconstitutional) Patriot Act so he can continue his administration's death grip on the civil liberties the States is supposedly the biggest defender of. There's a difference between US citizens believing 'the danger is behind [them]' and blindly bowing before more 'anti-terror' laws that make the States even more fascist than they already are.


You fucks, part deux

Now the US is attempting to block the WHO's plan to suggest that people eat less salt, fat and sugar and therefore be healthier. Yeah, I guess mainlining Big Macs instead is a good plan. You fucks.


Now that's knowing your priorities

"Six divers, 10 men with electric saws and a tank pulled the beer kegs - but not the truck - to safety."


Interesting choice

Elbow, whom I love, are covering 'Teardrop' by Massive Attack, a song I love. Should be interesting.


Bagel all day long

My newest food addiction has been a staple for me recently because it is: fast, easy, tasty, warm, and relatively good for me (i.e. not junk food, unless you count baloney). You see, for years now I have been known to occasionally take a bagel, slice it in half, spread a small amount of margarine or butter on it, and microwave it until it is delicious. During our recent mini-cold snap, I had been eating a bagel every so often, just by itself, and it was so cold I would microwave it to make it warm and chewy. This reminded me of how much I loved warm, chewy bagels. The next piece in this puzzle of tastiness came when I went to purchase my customary baloney for sandwiches and found all that the supermarket had left was the 'extra-thick' variety. I normally purchase normal baloney, but if nothing else I figured this would make it easier to get all the ay through a package of it without the last couple of slices being a bit off.

Soon, a brainwave struck! I like warm bagels, and aside from the grease I like fried baloney! Why not combine the two? The next time I had a bagel (an egg bagel to be exact, and they seem to work best), I sliced it in half and popped a slice of extra-thick (for extra meatiness!) baloney in there and microwaved the sucker. The result, my friends, was marvelous. And, thankfully, very ungreasy. I've been having the damn things for breakfast and lunch (accompanied by some fruit, usually clementines) ever since.


What a wookie

This is damn entertaining, and I'm not a fan of Star Wars.


You fucks

Spare me the mumbo jumbo about why they're reversing it; this comes down to Ottawa not wanting to pay the same benefits to same-sex couples that they do to others.


John freakin' Kerry?

Uh, I'm not sure this guy can beat Bush. But it's early days still. And, of course, I will gladly eat my words if necessary.


Word up

New Stylus review. Flee in terror!

Monday, January 19, 2004 

Fuckin' A

Shane McGowan + beer (but of course) + Primal Scream + 'Loaded' + the "woo wooo"s from 'Sympathy For The Devil' = Genius


Big surprise

I couldn't stay away from this one.

Good. You know your music. You should be able to
work at Championship Vinyl with Rob, Dick and

Do You Know Your Music (Sorry MTV Generation I Doubt You Can Handle This One)
brought to you by Quizilla



The good ol' AGO just had $1.5 million in sculptures stolen on Saturday.



Which Evil Villain Bad Habit are you?

Sunday, January 18, 2004 

Yo yo

New journal up. Not much, but them's the breaks.

Saturday, January 17, 2004 

A mess

News flash: Art sometimes pisses people off. I'm with the Swedish government on this one.



Anytime the subheading to an NME story is 'this is not a joke', you know you're in for something special.

Friday, January 16, 2004 

Geist editor

This is probably the most serious thing I've seen on SA, and while I'm not expecting the site as a whole to turn serious, it's great.


Gang's all here

Hey, Dom Passantino has a blog! You should read it. Dom's a funny guy.


Ebony & ivory

This sounds like a really neat idea.

Thursday, January 15, 2004 

Why I don't like Sartre (so far)

I don't understand existential dread. Oh, I understand what causes that dread in the character in Nausea, but not why the reaction is dread. Existential giddiness? Sure. Existential rapture, joy, ecstasy, weightlessness? But of course Dread? I don't get it.

I guess it's all in how you're taught it.


It's people. People.

Warren Ellis makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside whenever he talks about hippies.



Copps mulls move to NDP.



It's all well and good that they're now making Minidiscs that can store 45 hours of music, but you'd have to buy a new player, and I don't have $200 US just sitting around. Ah well, somehow I'll have to survive with my puny four hours per disc.


Does she wanna french with me? How will I know?

Go to Achewood. Scroll down. See that bold line saying 'Ray's Place'? Good. See the lines in italics talking about a theme song? Download it. It's great on so many levels. As is Achewood itself.


Throne of drone

New review up at... you know the drill.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004 

News flash

It's fucking cold.



I honestly had no idea that white socks are a fashion faux pas. In fact, the socks I'm wearing right now are white.


Wednesday's Emotional Setup: Readymade

5:00 pm

Recently for a project that won't come to fruition for a few months, I finally sat down and picked out my 100 favorite records. It was, of course, tough. This sort of thing is of course always going to be subjective, but as this was parsed as favorite and not best (Rolling Stone can blow me, by the way), I really used my discretion. Ultimately I didn't represent plenty of bands I loved because they work best in song form, not album; bands with single albums in the list were picked according to my fondness for them, not whether they were the 'best' thing that band ever produced; and compilations were found when, for me, they exuded 'albumness'. What is albumness? I dunno. Well, I do, but I couldn't tell you.

I'm not going to present the whole thing here (if for no other reason than because I'm at work and the file is at home), but I will tell you the top ten (after calling home to check):

01. Readymade - The Dramatic Balanced By
02. Television - Marquee Moon
03. The Clash - London Calling
04. Talking Heads - Stop Making Sense (1999 special edition)
05. The Stooges - Fun House
06. Joy Division - Closer
07. Teenage Fanclub - Grand Prix
08. New Order - Substance
09. Neil Young - Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
10. David Bowie - "Heroes"

So those, in other words, are the ten albums I know that I think best represent some sort of attribute of 'great albumness', which is essentially ineffable and thus several of you are probably scratching your heads and saying "what a moron" or words to that effect. It's submitted now, as well, so I can't change it or anything.

While the other 90 records on the list are occasionally the subject of much chagrin on my part as to being too high or too low, I'm pretty solid on the top ten. Especially #1. That one, I know, is going to provoke as much headscratching among colleagues as the fact that the Beatles don't appear until about #22 will provoke rage (after Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones and I believe the Who, no less). But, like I say, it's a personal list.

I've raved about Readymade, and that album in particular, to pretty much everyone at this point. If anyone remembers the pieces I posted last year that were my admission pieces into Stylus, they'll know two of them were on The Dramatic Balanced By. The band itself, when they read a piece I did for the Ontarion a few years back lionizing them, expressed surprise that I liked The Dramatic Balanced By better than it's follow up On Point And Red (which is good, but not special to me the way The Dramatic Balanced By is).

If I had to sum up the reason it's my favorite album in the shortest possible space, I wouldn't say much about what it sounds like, the lyrics, any given songs, though all three would help to explain if I was giving an answer in depth. I'd probably resort ot just saying this:

The Dramatic Balanced By is the only record I own/have ever heard that I have never not wanted to hear. Every time I put it on I'm in the mood for it. Whether I'm happy, sad, furious, depressed, whatever, I want to hear it. All of it. All fifteen tracks and 66-odd minutes (possibly more, if I'm remembering it wrongly). Everything from 'Maryland, That Means Good' to 'The Lamplighters Are Dead'. Unless I'm pressed for time, I never skip anything.

The other nine records are like that most of the time (well, except for Substance's second disc, but it's a mark of how much I love the first disc, and 'Temptation' specifically, that it's in there), but none is constant for me in the way The Dramatic Balanced By is. Why? I don't know. Although I wished people didn't go "Who?" when I mention Readymade, I imagine one aspect of my love for the album is that it's a private love, one that nobody really understands but me.

On the other hand, I did get Dad to buy a copy when I saw one for ten bucks in HMV, and he decided to keep it, and I still love The Dramatic Balanced By, so maybe there's hope for us all.


Tuesday, January 13, 2004 

Oh. My. God.

I actually updated the journal after I kind of said I would. But hey, that's two non music entries in one week! You should be grateful.

...assuming you read it in the first place, mind you.


Was his name Daniel?

"Hospital officials said Mr Tomas was being treated for wounds to arms and face as well as psychological problems."

Moral of the story: Don't taunt lions. Psychological problems? Yeah, I'd imagine.


Shitty Mussolini

So Berlusconi has had that law repealed. You know, the law he passed to make himself immune to prosecution? Sure, the man may be right up there with Bush and the local leftist radicals in terms of being a fascist, but man does he have some chutzpah.

Monday, January 12, 2004 

Lists, lists, lists

Stolen from Melissa:

Set your MP3 player on your computer to "shuffle." Post the first ten songs it plays.

01. Neutral Milk Hotel - 'In The Aeroplane Over The Sea'
02. Lou Reed - 'Modern Dance'
03. The White Stripes - 'Hello Operator'
04. Belle & Sebastian - 'Expectations'
05. Flying Lizards - 'Money (That's What I Want)'
06. Roni Size feat. Method Man - 'Ghetto Celebrity'
07. Martin Rev - 'Baby Oh Baby'
08. Six By Seven - 'Bad Man'
09. Ian Brown - 'F.E.A.R.'
10. Al Green - 'Let's Stay Together'



I've been reading the online version of Samuel Pepys diary from very close to the beginning, and it's of course fascinating stuff. Occasionally especially interesting topics come up, though, such as this one: Do you actually like Sam?


If you need further clarification, stop reading this and go set yourself on fire

I think I like this blog (the quote is from the December archives). And I'm being more choosy these days.


Night vision

Girls Are Pretty continues to make you feel all weird inside. I think it's what most people describe as choked up. I wish he'd write a book of short pieces like this.


That's it

The previous two, plus this (basically, GWB telling reporters "No President has ever done more for human rights than I have"), and all three out and there and available if the American people give a fuck, there had better be some fucking regime change toot sweet.

If not, I propose we build a wall between Canada and the States to keep the fuckwits out.


News flash

New report calls the fuckin' War On Iraq (it's not really in - it's closer to other famous FUBARs like the War On Drugs) "an unnecessary war of choice". Really? Who'd have thought it?



Oh, so we can probe Paul O'Neill's book to see if he leaked anything, but the Valarie Plame thing is still going nowhere. FUCK YOU.


Critical conensus

Elbow's new album is so good, even Pitchfork liked it.


T-shirt whore

Please click on this link, or the one at the bottom of my diary. Not only because Diesel Sweeties is hella funny, but because I might win a t-shirt!


Battle of wits

Lyz versus Jaws 3D. This will be painful.


I was offered a trade

New review up at Stylus, of Pseudosix.


New post

The expected Sunday entry is just a little bit late. More to come soon, I promise (link to the right as normal).

Friday, January 09, 2004 

The end of haters

When will Odelay start getting the props it deserves as the first great indie rap album (cf. especially 'Hotwax', 'Novacane', 'Where It's At' of course, 'Readymade')? The fact that most of it is, y'know, not actually rap is completely irrelevant and should be ignored.



The US lowers its terror alert to yellow. I should stop shooting to kill, then?



Nick Southall begins his project of 100 albums in 100 sentences. This is just the first half.

Thursday, January 08, 2004 

Urge to kill rising

This just in: hostile email raises your blood pressure. Someone alert my boss, please.



New review by yours truly up at Stylus.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004 

Oh, and...

I know, I know, Smiths fans are both a dime a dozen and pretty repugnant, on occasion. But repeat after me, kids: "It's not the band I hate, it's their fans". They did make some of the most vital pop music of the decade I was born in, eh?


A realization

Anyone who can't appreciate 'This Charming Man', Morrissey feyly whimpering "Will nature make a man of me yet?", will never really understand me.


Cautously hopeful

is how I'm feeling about Bush's new "temporary worker program". I can't help feeling that he's just attempting to legitimize the way certain types of corporations (coughMcDonaldscough) hire unskilled labor and then fire them again before having to give them benefits, but that aside it looks like a step forward.


Basket case

I actually like Green Day, so I'm glad they're making another album. A lot of the criticism thrown their way in the past has been really, really small minded.


Wednesday's Emotional Setup: 2003

This, then, is the list I submitted to Stylus, with some explanations. I should note that I was told not to vote for the Delgados Hate, as it apparantly came out the year before (which the liner notes bear out). Otherwise it would have been high.

20. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Take Them On, On Your Own (Virgin)
Hindsight = 20/20. Not that I dislike this album, but really any one of Audio Bullys, Massive Attack or Super Furry Animals should probably be here. That this made it instead is a testament to how much I was listening to 'In Like The Rose' when I made the list (early December). Plus, my little sister like this one.

19. The Dears - No Cities Left (Maple Music)
Was absolutely obsessed with this for about a month, but no staying power. I may have burned myself out on this one. Might return to it in the future, but right now #19 feels about right.

18. Mogwai - Happy Music For Happy People (PIAS)
This is one of those albums that I feel like it should be higher - until I look at what is higher. I love Mogwai (especially live), and this is a good record, but not one of their greats (like I think Rock Action is). A consolidation, rather than a new peak.

17. Chris Whitley - Hotel Vast Horizon (Messenger)
But maybe this one should be higher, I don't know. It's a beautiful, beautiful record, but I don't pull it out very often. It's an exemplar of a style I don't feel I need many records of, so this stands in my collection in liu of a bunch of other records that could probably do just as well. But I found this one first, and I love it. I think my dad would probably like it. I love the guitar work, although it's a bit odd.

16. Spiritualized - Amazing Grace (Sanctuary)
See here for reasons why it's not higher. Great songs, continues Jason Pierce's strings of albums I love, but in a year of so many albums I liked, the shitty sequencing kills it.

15. Explosions In The Sky - The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place (Temporary Residence)
Yes, I gave it 10/10, and yes it's only #15 on my list. No, that does not mean every album after that is a 10. Hell, I gave my number one album a 7.9. But reread part of this review: "The feeling I'm left with, after 'Your Hand In Mine' ebbs away, is that I may never need another instrumental album like this again." It gets a 10 because it sets out to do something and then does it perfectly. That that something isn't my favorite thing in the world doesn't make it any less worthy of the ten. But it does mean I liked other records, records which failed in ways The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place doesn't, more.

14. Hinterlandts - Poprekordt (Dhyana)
Late addition. Haven't listened to it in a while, but I loooove this record, and the other Hinterlandts one I have. Can't explain why I respond so readily to Jochen Gutsch's work, but his loopy pop songs enthrall me, even in expanded form.

13. Blur - Think Tank (EMI)
I've written previously that I'm not a typical Blur fan, in that I first encountered them in 'indie' configuration. I now have The Great Escape, and like it well enough, but I like their later stuff at least as much. And although I like Graham Coxon just fine, his departure doesn't particularly bother me. In fact, I began my Ontarion review of this album with the words 'Fuck Graham Coxon'. Why? Because this is the best album they've made. Why? Becase for once it doesn't sound like Damon is gnawing his own liver when he was writing these songs. From 'Ambulance' ('I ain't got nothing to be scared of") to 'Battery In Your Leg' ("This is a ballad for the good times"), he finally sounds shakily, wonderfully happy. No idea if that has to do with Coxon or not, don't care. Albarn being spiteful and cynical was quite entertaining, yes, but life's too short. I'd rather listen to the weird Clashisms of 'Gene By Gene'. Or, in other words, I agree with Sam. And Pitchfork, too.

12. Kid606 - Kill Sound Before Sound Kills You (Ipecac)
Gabba gabba hey! Miguel Depredo seems just as stupid, and is really just as smart, and the Ramones ever were. Here he puts it all together, from thrashing IDM monuments to calmer moments of Mille Plateaux reflection, to some kickin' dancehall/Squarepusher hybrids. The Roadrunner "meep meep" sample in 'The Illness' alone is more fun than most of the electronic records released this year.

11. OutKast - Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (Arista)
Way too much has been written about this one, so I'll keep it short: I prefer Big Boi's half (Andre needs to cut about 20 minutes, including 'My Favorite Things'), but both are pretty brilliant, no I don't wish they'd made it one disc, and someone should get Sleepy Brown a solo album now. Also, for the fifth time, why didn't they just outright sample Vini Reilly for the brilliant 'Flip Flop Rock'?

10. Killing Joke - Killing Joke (Zuma)
Best 'heavy' album in a year not terribly thick with them, admittedly. Good to see some experienced veterans back and doing it correctly. Dave Grohl should be proud for keeping up, and Jaz Coleman should be proud that after 'Total Invasion' and 'Implant' he can still talk.

09. The Constantines - Shine A Light (Sub Pop)
Another album hamstrung by sequencing. This could have been my #1, if not for the last three tracks. They've grown on me, and they're not bad, but they should be scattered throughout the album, not stacked at the end. Even with that, if they'd just made 'On To You' the final track, this would have been top 3, easy. But as is, it just leaves me with the bad taste of wasted potential in my mouth. I still think they might 'save' this whole rock and roll thing, though.

08. Shins - Chutes Too Narrow (Sub Pop)
Can you tell I'm a 'song' sort of guy? Not that I dislike other forms, but just that they don't tend to get on my year-end lists. James Mercer, after not terribly impressing me with Oh, Inverted World, blew me away with this. Love the 3D liner notes, too. Second best pop album of the year.

07. My Morning Jacket - It Still Moves (ATO)
These guys are on Dave freakin' Matthews' record label? Just goes to show Dave isn't that bad a guy after all. A classic case of me hearing hype, downloading some tracks illegally, and then liking it enough to buy. 'Mahgeetah' and 'Just One Thing' mostly did that, but the more I listen the more I love the sprawl of the whole album, 'Steam Engine' in particular. Also, of course, a very home-y album for me, as the echoes of country rock, Neil Young, the Allman Brothers, etc, brings me back to parts of my dad's record collection. Probably the highest rated album here I think he'd like.

06. Elbow - Cast Of Thousands (V2)
I didn't expect it either. I liked Asleep At The Back at purchase, and it really grew on me, but this blew it away. That I got it the same day as number four made for a great week. If you ask me just as 'Ribcage' ends and 'Fallen Angel' begins, I would tell you this is my favorite albums ever. And, perhaps perversely, I think 'Buttons And Zips' is oneof the sexiest rock songs released this year. Hints of the old paranoia ('Snooks (Progress Report)', 'I've Got Your Number') peek through, but mostly this is a redemptive effort of small grace. And Guy Garvey's voice (I don't know if I've mentioned this before) is one of my favorites, it's like a warm, fuzzy, old and comfortable sweater.

05. British Sea Power - The Decline Of British Sea Power (Rough Trade)
The run from 'Something Wicked' to 'Blackout', inclusive, is some of my fvorite self-defined pop music of the year. Each song (there's six of them) boasts what are to me irresistable choruses. Fuck indie rock, these guys should be on MTV. Have you heard 'Carrion'? That that run is surrounded by great Mclusky/Pixies type thrashers ('Apologies To Insect Life', 'Favours In The Beetroot Fields') and the most listenable 14-minute noise epic I've heard on a 'proper' rock album in a long, long time ('Lately'), is only more amazing. On the basis of this, sounds like they can do anything.

04. Belle & Sebastian - Dear Catastrophe Waitress (Rough Trade)
My favorite pop album of the year. No other songs quite made me feel the same way 'I'm A Cuckoo', 'Piazza, New York Catcher' and 'Roy Walker' (along with every other song here) makes me feel. Even 'Step Into My Office, Baby' grew on me. Stuart Murdoch is one of my favorite current lyricists, and I've liked all of their albums, so there was no way I was going to dislike this.

03. radiohead - Hail To The Thief (EMI)
Turns out I didn't like Kid A and Amnesiac that much, unbeknownest to myself at the time. I couldn't tell until I bought Hail To The Thief a good month after release (unlike the day of, as with the past two), and eventually popped it in, and fell in love. In my opinion, the best thing they've done: yes, better than OK Computer and The Bends, as great as they were. Here they finally amalgamate that sound with their later directions into something new and compelling. Our generation's Pink Floyd (which makes Tool King Crimson, incidentially), for better or for worse. So far, it's for better.

02. The Wrens - The Meadowlands (Absolutely Kosher)
I love it when one of these comes out of nowhere. I would have given this a ten, too. My blurb on Stylus (number 11 here) gives you part of it, but this is simply the best written indie rock effort, perhaps ever. Listen to 'She Sends Kisses', and it's devastating. Do it again, this time read the lyrics as you do, and it's even more so. Such complete mastery of both music and words is rare and precious, and coming from a bunch of relative unknowns is even more rare and precious. I'm seeing them in Toronto soon, and I can't wait.

01. Elefant - Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid (Kemado)
Assuming anyone's reading this, I'm expecting 'huh?'s right now. I gave it a 7.9. No one else at Stylus (for example) voted for it. Huh? This is my favorite rock album of the year (what makes this rock, and the Shins pop, is avery fine line. I don't think I could articulate it if I had to). It's short, it's sweet, it's got lyrics that I guess remind me of me, and it makes me want to fall in love all over again every time I hear it. I played no other record more this year, and no other sons spent more time in my head than 'Make Up' (another of the year's sexiest songs), 'Misfit', 'Bokkie', 'Tonight Let's Dance' and the rest. Sure, it sounds like The Strokes Meet Interpol Uptown, to make a joke, but I don't care. We like what we like.


Tuesday, January 06, 2004 

Erase errata

New journal entry up, regular service now to resume after my near-month-long holiday.


So fucked up

I have no problems with others enjoying weird pizzas, but for the record I could never eat just about anything displayed here. Especially any pizzas with corn and/or mayonnaise on it.


Blind luck, deliver me

The article here on luck devolves into technicalities pretty fast, but I love the opening few paragraphs.

Monday, January 05, 2004 


David Mamet on secret names.



I live in an apartment where the two inhabitents often have to get up at different times. The worst thing in the world is hearing the alarm, thinking it's for someone else, and then realising that no, you have to get up. It's not even that I mind getting up that early - I just resent thinking that I can go back to sleep.



Wanna know something weird and cool?

So Pete, in this entry, talks about this dream he had, which reminded me (as I say in the link) of the brilliant Qwantz (which is worth it for the image descriptions alone). And then the guy who writes Qwantz posts in response. For some reason, he was reading Pete's journal. It's all in that first link. How cool is that?

But spooky. Very spooky.

Sunday, January 04, 2004 


New, extremely brief, journal entry up.


The metal keeps the soul from escaping

This is mostly worth it just for the potato stuff. Although that Star Trek game of his does actually sound (shock! horror!) fun.

Oh, and I'm fine with other people liking Crichton's later work, I just find it boring and poorly written. So nyah.

And lastly, Josh, learn how to link to individual entries. Yeesh.


Surprise, surprise

Britney's having that marriage annulled. Moral of the story: Never get drunk in Vegas.

Saturday, January 03, 2004 

Hot for teacher

I don't know any profs I particularly want to get with, but this article points out (correctly, I think) that trying to prevent that sort of thing with "institutional blunt instruments" is, well, stupid.

Apologies for the rather obvious post title, by the way.


Bad science

Do I like Michael Crichton as an author? No. I enjoyed The Terminal Man and The Andromeda Strain as a kid (and both hold up fairly well today), but it's been downhill ever since. this speech, however, is quite brilliant. Whether you happen to believe in aliens, nuclear winter, second hand smoke, etc, etc or not, his points are still well taken. It's not that these things are necessarily false, it's that there's no science in them right now. It's fairly crucial reading, and coming from someone I'd long written off as a hack, I'm pleasently surprised at the source.

Friday, January 02, 2004 

Links galore

As you have perhaps already noticed, the links to the right have gotten a much needed overhaul. Mostly additions, although no slur is meant on the few sites I did have listed I don't really read anymore. Mostly this was a case of taking things I should have had up before and adding them in.


I really don't know how I feel about this

So, the Crocodile Hunter has a kid. And he's raising the kid to follow in his footsteps. I kind of can't see the problem, but kind of can.

Still rather have him for a father than Michael Jackson, though. My friends and I used to watch the show, marvelling not only at the hilarity, but the way that Irwin would risk his skin (thus getting tons of viewers) and then slip in all this great stuff on nature, animals, ecology, and so on; I think he's probably done a lot of good in terms of exposure of that sort of thing, as people who watch his show because "dude, you will not believe how this guy acts" wind up learning a lot.


Choked up

Girls Are Pretty is one of the few sites I read that I would buy a book version of. Sure, the funny/scatological/scathing ones are great, but then every so often he whips out one of these. If he ever compiles the first few years into a book, I'm there.



Well, Nick, I'd argue that it's because the former (mostly) make shit albums and the latter (mostly) shit singles. I'd be being glib, but I think that's at the root of it.

Thursday, January 01, 2004 

Party hearty

Some people really don't like New Year's Eve. I don't understand it, myself - most year's I've stayed in with a few friends or family and played video games, watched movies and the like. This year I actually went out to a party with a bunch of people, most of whom I didn't know at all, and drank myself silly. I had fun, personally. All due respect to Nick and Todd, but I think of it this way: you can either look at New Year's Eve as "evil and awkward imperative to have as much fun as possible" (to quote Nick), or you can view it as an excuse to schedule a party for that day of the week rather than another day. I mean, I'm on vacation so I'll be getting together with people at some point anyway, right?


Year end

I've already linked to Stylus' year end article (here's the full thing, if you're lazy; albums I didn't like made it just as high as albums I loved, and #1 is one I haven't even heard, which I like), so here's Glenn McDonald's (and extremely good call to Glenn on putting Chris Whitley as number 2 - an amazing album).



Obviously I've been a bit busy. Should be getting back into routine now.



Happy New Year's, everyone!

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About me

Ian Mathers is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Stylus, the Village Voice, Resident Advisor, PopMatters, and elsewhere. He does stuff and it magically appears here.

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